Carfentanyl: Richard Castro 36, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges leveled against him, and has agreed to forfeit $4 million which is said to be a procedure from his illicit drug business according to the U.S. Justice Department, Castro was an active user of the Alphabay and Dream market, trading in fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and carfentanyl until his arrest. He had operated on the above-listed markets for five years and had distributed large quantity of drugs across Europe.

The high influx of these drugs into the country has made law enforcers taken measures to go undercover on the dark web to bring perpetrators under the authority of the law. Castro was arrested through this initiative.

On the authority of the public court filings and the statements made at the court, Castro operated this drug business between November 2015 and March 2019. Between this period, herun the business with other conspirators under three different usernames namely: “Chemsusa,” “Chems_usa,” and “Chemical_usa.”  Under the “Chemusa” moniker were positive reviews from customers, with one stating that the substance was “extremely potent and definitely the real Carfentanyl”.

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On one of the usual patrols on the dark web, underground agents came across the store and made a brief search on the profile. According to the criminal complaint, Castro even boasted on the Dream market to have made successful transactions of 3200 on other marketplaces. It was stated that he had made a total of 1800 transaction on the shutdown Alphabay market alone. Somewhere in 2018, the underground agents approached him to make an order. However, he informed them that he was moving his business from the dark web. For this reason, he would only respond to requests for drugs made on an encrypted email.

Surprisingly, Castro demanded his customers to pay a fee before they could get access to his encrypted email. The underground law enforcers made the payment in Bitcoin. Right after that, they made the order, and a co-conspirator of Castro, Luis Fernandez, made the shipment to the law enforcers. From the package, authorities realized the sender was based in the New York. Investigation revealed that Castro laundered the money in two ways.

  1. He channeled $1.77 million to different Bitcoin wallets and
  2. Bought about 100 quadrillion Zimbabwe bank notes as claimed by the U.S. Justice Department.

From November 2018 until his arrest, 94 confiscated packages were linked to his operation. Almost all substances found in these packages tested positive to fentanyl or carfentanyl. As claimed by the report, all the packages were shipped through the USPS Priority Mail envelopes. The senders address indicated on the packages were traced to government entities or law firms. After his arrest, New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James P. O’Neill stated that any individual, as long as he deals in narcotics would be tracked down by the NYPD and its partners.

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In his latest appearance at the court, Castro pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances which are fentanyl, phenyl fentanyl, and carfentanyl. In addition, he also pleaded guilty to money laundering. According to report, the first charge calls for a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum prison sentence of life in prison. The second charge also calls for a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The needed sentence would be determined by the judge.

After the guilty plea, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said that Castro distributed prolific drugs for years thinking the anonymity of the dark web could shield him from the reach of the law enforcers. However, a joint operation of the able police force took him down to face the law. He then commended the New York City Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other agencies for a good work done.

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge, Philip R. Bartlett earlier stated that the defendant had the impression that he could use postal services for his drug deliveries as his customers contact him on the dark web and encrypted email. He had no pity for the community he was destroying.

Berman explained that fentanyl is a very dangerous drug. It has been said to cause more death than gun violence. However, carfentanil is 100 times stronger than it. He further stated that carfentanyl is used as a tranquilizer for large animals. Despite the danger these drugs poses to the average human, Castro and his co-conspirator distributed them in large quantity.

His next court appearance is scheduled on 25 October 2019.

Source: Coin Desk


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